|Origin||:||Western and Central Europe|
|Height||:||4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm)|
|Flowering||:||summer (from the second year)|
|Properties||:||aperitif, purifier, diuretic, stomachic, tonic|
The Greeks and Romans used endives for both their pharmacological and their culinary properties. However, tastes have changed with time and endives are nowadays only prized by those amateurs who prefer crisp salads with a bitter flavor. This tendency has been emphasized by those producers who concentrate on the cultivation of other types of lettuce.
This biennial plant produces rosettes of leaves without forming heads. The foliage is dense, refreshing and delicately bitter. The green, more or less large leaves have white borders and are gathered together at the neck of the root. Its many varieties form two groups, the curly, or narrow leaf, and the Batavian, or broad leaf, endive. The small whitish flowers stand in panicles and bear achenes with a small, silky crown.
Endive thrives in loamy soil; the sowing takes place on a well prepared field which must be regularly watered during the whole growth period. When the required size has been reached, the heart is covered with plastic film which has the effect of reducing the bitterness, producing a milder and more tender lettuce. The same results can be achieved by placing the roots in glass containers. Because endives do not keep for long, they must be used right after being harvested. They are very rich in vitamin A and C and contain vitamin B, cellulose, a few carbohydrates, and bitter substances. They have diuretic and purifying properties. Prepared in salads, they form part of a well balanced diet. Endives stimulate the appetite and aid digestion and the elimination of toxins. They also stimulate and tonify the organism.